Distributed Cognition in Community-based Education

Carlos Herrero, Maria Brown

Abstract


According to the concept of distributed cognition or distributed intelligence (Pea, 1993; Wertsch, 1995), which is popular in current theories on learning, intelligence is not a property of individual minds. Instead it is achieved through the resources distributed in society: between people, and also between people, physical tools, and symbolic systems. Building on this perspective, people can achieve very complex goals through distributed cognition. When schools engage in joint projects with members of the community, many examples of socially distributed intelligence emerge; moreover, when people interact in more egalitarian ways, using this kind of collective intelligence, both the processes and the results are much more effective. This article describes various ways that distributed cognition functions in four schools in Spain that are being studied within the INCLUD-ED integrated research project. This type of organisation in these schools is reflected in two key practices: mixed committees and interactive groups in the classroom. Evidence of the pedagogical benefits of this approach is also provided.

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